Playoff picture coming into focus for SK volleyballers

"The playoff picture is unclear for the South Kitsap High School girls volleyball team.But at least the signs are all pointing in the right direction for the Wolves, who can clinch a first-place tie in the Narrows League with Olympia and Capital by winning at Bellarmine Tuesday at 5 p.m.No matter how things are determined, SK (8-1 NL, 16-2 overall) can play its way into districts at the Narrows League tournament Oct. 28 at Bellarmine.But a loss would give the Wolves the No.4 seed in the league tournament.It would be beneficial for SK to earn one of the top two spots in the league. The top two seeds are assured no worse than fifth since they wouldn't play until the third round and the top five teams advance to West Central Districts.SK coach Mary Pugh said she is still waiting to hear how the seeding for the tournament will be determined.In the past they've had a playoff game before the league tournament, Pugh said. But that has been with two teams going head to head.The Wolves are coming off easy wins against Wilson and Peninsula. But the victories have been overshadowed by a week of anxiety because of mid-terms and Homecoming preparation.The Wolves also play in the Fife tournament today, which coincides with the Homecoming dance.A good showing at the tournament could force the team to play in the afternoon or evening, and that could cause a scheduling conflict with the dance.The stress started to show when Pugh had to bench four of her six starters before last Monday's home match against Wilson because only four varsity players showed up for practice.The rules are if you miss a practice you don't play (or play is limited), Pugh said. The junior varsity team was there, the trainers were there. The kids are responsible for being here.Pugh said she admits it was the most stressful week of the season for her players.There are tons of distractions, she said. Everyone is just drained right now by all the Homecoming (preparations) and mid-terms. These are bright kids, but the seniors and juniors are taking higher level classes and they're working hard. It's a little less (stressful) for sophomores.Fortunately for SK it faces Bellarmine after the distractions have subsided.Pugh said she hopes the players can regain their focus and achieve the goal they set before the season started - to make their first state appearance.The key to the team's success has been the combination of good passing, strong hitting, and an improved defense.That nucleus was shaken in the first game against Wilson with a combination of starters, bench players, and junior varsity players.But gradually Pugh put her best team out there.Senior Rachelle Cooper led the team with 17 kills, followed by junior Katie Ralph's 14 kills.Ralph also served up eight aces. Erin Olsen and Ashley Foster each followed with four aces.SK made quick work at Peninsula Wednesday with Cooper and Ralph each landing eight kills.Freshman Stephanie Olsen had eight assists."

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